For the special occasion some of Italy?s finest and most promising young referees made the trip from Italy to officiate the clash.
Roberto Mattei took charge with the whistle and he was ably assisted by Leonardo Biccheri and Diego Di Biase on the lines. In the end, it was fitting that both clubs should walk away with a share of the points.
A free-kick from just outside the box early on from Robert Younis sailed just over James Chronopoulos? goal in what was the first salvo of the game.
In the 8? minute Vamara Diarra, one of Marconi?s Cote d?Ivoire imports, should have put the home side ahead, but was denied by a brilliant save from Phillip Zabaks from close range.
The Sydney Tigers custodian was responsible for some for good shot-stopping throughout the night in what was a very good display of goalkeeping.
The Italian referee Mattei was forced to make his first major decision of the game in the 22? minute when he awarded a penalty to the Tigers when Younis was brought down in the box by Christopher Nunes.
There were absolutely no arguments given the impeccable decision and Younis duly converted the penalty, but he must thank Chronopoulos for diving away from his straight drive.
In the 35? minute Mattei awarded Marconi a penalty when Michael West brought down Alexander Canak at the other end.
Nahuel Arrarte stepped up to the mark but was denied by a brilliant save from Zabaks diving to his left. In reality, it was a much better taken penalty than Younis? earlier effort but the final result was very different given the quality of the goalkeeping from Zabaks.
On the stroke of half-time Younis tried his luck with a powerful shot from outside the box but his effort went narrowly wide of the mark.
During the break Marconi coach Lee Sterrey made two changes including bringing Kader Toure on which was arguably the turning point for the Stallions. The dynamic little player was into everything and looked dangerous at every turn.
In the 56? minute John Kelso appeared to bring Matt Gordon down in the box and, despite some of the players asking the Italian official the key question regarding a penalty, there was to be no spot kick.
In the 64? minute Andrea Merenda with a pin-point accurate cross found Canak who headed powerfully towards goal, but once again Zabaks denied him with a stupendous save.
On 75 minutes Kader Toure played a beautiful one-two with Ali Al-Hilfi but his powerful shot from the right was once again easy prey for Zabaks.
Three minutes later as the Stallions continually peppered the Tigers goal Arrarte almost equalised when his great shot from outside the box crashed into the crossbar and at the same time almost dislodged the goal frame from its position such was the power of his shot.
In the 82? minute Toure sent in a beautiful ball to Ben Vidaic but the Tigers needed to thank Kelso who courageously threw his body in front of the ball to turn it wide for a corner.
The Tigers had a good chance to double their lead when Franco Parisi won the ball from Merenda and found Younis charging towards goal, but the former Adelaide United striker?s powerful drive was narrowly wide of the mark.
Marconi, however, were not done yet and it seemed only a matter a time before they would equalise.
In the 88? minute after a poorly cleared corner and a lot of confusion and mess in the box, the ball fell to Toure who blasted just over from close-range.
A minute later Toure sent in a beautiful ball into the middle for Vidaic but the tall striker from close range shot wide of the goal. At this point it appeared that it might not have been Marconi?s night, but in the 93? minute Vidaic made up for his earlier miss and scored the goal that Marconi so deserved.
A free-kick from Al-Hilfi reached Canak who headed against the crossbar, but the ball fell nicely for Vidaic who sent it into the top right hand corner of the net.
After the game Luke McGuire, coach of the Tigers, was left to lament how his side couldn?t manage to hold on:
?We worked very hard and we threw our heart and soul into that game, but to have it taken away from us like that was just cruel,? he said.
?I thought we showed great character and team spirit which was a change from the last few weeks ? everyone knows we had a tough couple of weeks ? but tonight we showed the Tigers fighting spirit.?
Marconi Stallions coach Sterrey on the other hand was very impressed with his side?s second stanza of play:
?I liked our character in the second-half which was super but we ended up chasing the game from a stupid penalty that we gave away,? he said.
?We shouldn?t have been chasing the game and then we missed our own penalty, but in the second half there were a lot chances, a lot of good ball movement and passion.
?We got the goal we deserved but I believe that we should have scored more than one. Credit to the Tigers for the way they defended.?
Meanwhile, in the under 20s Marconi Stallions defeated the Sydney Tigers 3-0.
Marconi Stallions 1 (Ben Vidaic 90?+3?)
Sydney Tigers 1(Robert Younis 23?(pen))
Saturday, 2nd May, 2009
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Roberto Mattei (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Leonardo Biccheri and Diego Di Biagio (Italy)
Fourth Official: Sandro Perticarini
Marconi Stallions: 22.James Chronopoulos; 2.Wade Oostendorp, 6.Vuko Tomasevic (9.Erick Anabalon 46?), 8.Alexander Canak, 10.Ali Al-Hilfi, 11.Matt Gordon, 15.Tim McGowan (7.Kader Toure 46?), 17.Vamara Diarra (13.Ben Vidaic 76?), 23.Christopher Nunes,26. Nahuel Arrarte, 30.Andrea Merenda
Substitutes Not Used: 4.Umut Tokdogan, 20.Cem Akiuli
Yellow Cards: Andrea Merenda 53?, Nahuel Arrarte 90?, Erick Anabalon 90?+4?
Sydney Tigers: 99.Phillip Zabaks; 2.Mark Byrnes, 3.John Kelso, 4.Daniel Clifford, 7.Stephen Kayes, 12.Michael West, 18.Bishara Stephan (8.Marino Musumeci 82?), 19.Jamie McMaster, 24.Jason Trifiro, 9.Robert Younis, 10.Franco Parisi
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Michael Galluzzo, 11.Carlo Musumeci, 13.Stefan Donevski, 20.Michael Rutherford
Yellow Cards: Jamie McMaster 8?, Bishara Stephan 48?, Daniel Clifford 63?, Jason Trifiro 70?
3 – Nahuel Arrarte (MS)
2 – Phillip Zabaks (ST)
1 – Kader Toure (MS)
-By Joe Russo